Spotlight on Bismarck State College Lineman Program
Updated: May 9
Bismarck State College is innovative community college offering high quality education, workforce training, and enrichment programs reaching local and global communities. North Dakota as a region employs close to one thousand lineman and this is one of the top programs for training. The program is well known for its strong curriculum and career preparation. We recently connected with Brad Anderson, Assistant Professor of Electrical Lineworker, to learn a little more about what makes the program so special as it comes up on 50 years of operations.
Preparing lineman for jobs in North Dakota
What makes you especially enthusiastic about working in the trades and lineman industry?
Everyday is something different. One day setting a pole out in the middle of nowhere in a field and the next setting a pole downtown Bismarck, ND and pouring concrete around it. The constant work and challenges make this career fun and exciting. It’s a brotherhood that everyone watches each others backs on a daily basis to get the job done right and safe.
How does the program curriculum and training give strong preparation to the trainees?
We like to run this program just like how industry works. If students are going to be late or tardy we require them to call/e-mail us prior to class time or their grades will suffer. We work both Distribution and Transmission systems to give the student a full understanding of what they will be working with after this intense fast paced 9 month program finishes. Our training ensures that students will be a productive hand the first day they get on the truck displaying a great work ethic along with a safety conscious.
Strong apprenticeship opportunities for lineman in North Dakota
What do employers especially appreciate about your program?
Our employers, many of which sit on our Advisory Board, appreciate that our students are learning basic fundamentals in safety, equipment and line repair, while working with new equipment. Through our state funding and grants we have been able to provide the newest equipment along with the necessary certifications to allow our students to succeed.
We are very proud that our program has been at full capacity for the past 8 years enrolling 60 students per year. Bismarck State College does recruiting trips for high school students, but the majority of our students get recommended by past students who have successfully completed our program. Safety is our top priority and preach it daily while we put students through multiple tasks to become a well rounded apprentice lineman who will soon be a very valuable asset for any utility or contractor.
How has your program evolved over its history?
Our program will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year with new construction on a training center, that includes classrooms, a CDL simulator room and indoor climbing facility to be completed summer 2022. Along with the campus improvements, our curriculum has evolved as industry has to ensure the students are working with the same type of equipment and lineworker tools.
Supporting strong lineman jobs in North Dakota
Do you have a special success story or favorite alumni story you would like to share?
The great thing about teaching linework is our students are spread out all over the United States with Utilities, Contractors, and Coops. I don’t have a specific story, but enjoy getting pictures weekly from previous students showing me where they are at now along with some beautiful views. This is a very rewarding trade for anyone who wants to work hard with a safety conscious and great team skills to keep the lights on for generations to come.
The students walk out of here with multiple certifications: Pole top rescue, First Aid/CPR, and Bobcat just to name a few. They also work through our CDL Simulator and 10 speed semi to obtain their Class A CDL prior to graduation.
What are a couple other things you wish more people knew about your program?
First, we understand this is an invest for the students and work very hard to keep our tuition affordable. Second, we allow new students to come in during the summer and try this career out for three weeks using all our gear and equipment. If students pass those courses, we then enroll them in the core classes. As the only program in the North Dakota we have tremendous support from our industry and board members to work on scholarships, curriculum and program needs.